The Trump administration is said to be eying sizable cuts to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard, including one option that would lower automakers’ minimal mandated fleet-wide fuel economy average to 35.7 miles per gallon by 2026, instead of the 46.6 mpg currently on the books. Testing for CAFE purposes is conducted using an outdated, decidedly optimistic regimen, so that 35.7 mpg really equates to around 27 mpg by window sticker standards.
The news comes courtesy of Bloomberg, which managed to acquire a draft NHTSA analysis. The option mentioned above, with 35.7 mpg replacing 46.6 mpg as a CAFE standard, would mean that a projected 10 percent of new cars and trucks sold in the US would need to rely on electrification, down from the 61 percent projected under the Obama-era standard.
For automakers like Ford Motor Company, which announced at the 2018 North American International Auto Show its intention to pour $11 billion into electrification by 2022, the impacts of such a rule change could prove to be minimal. The California Air Resources Board is unlikely to go along with such a drastic reduction in the CAFE standard, and designing different product lines for CARB vs. non-CARB states is an expensive and unappealing proposition. Even if the CARB were steamrolled on the issue, plenty of global markets have their own standards that could force companies like Ford to keep their fleet-wide fuel economy averages high.
Other options presented in the draft NHTSA analysis proposed more probable, less-drastic cuts to the CAFE standard.